There are so many beautiful beings behind the things we buy – the farmers growing delicious cacao for chocolate, the plants that purify lush springs where artesian water is sourced, wildlife in rain forests near palm plantations, crews manning cargo ships travelling all around the world spreading deliveries on lego-like shipping containers.
But are these farmers traded with fairly and compassionately, and these plastic bottles of spring water necessary? Are these wild creatures safe in their dwindling habitat, these shipping containers really worth the baggage inside? In our global age where big companies have big power, there’s good and bad practices, and in some cases its hard to find out what’s going on.
None of us in our hearts would want to see the kind of suffering that some practices can bring, and the movement towards consuming with a kind conscience is growing larger by the day.
Conscious (and compassionate) consumerism is about seeking the truth behind what you buy, and using your buying power for good. Although we might not realise it, shopping is like voting; every thing we buy is a vote for the kind of world we want to live in.
Love and money may seem worlds apart, but we can with our dollar actively change the lives of others all over the globe. Like this funky (and slightly cheesy) rhyme; If we want to make a difference with heart, right in our wallets is where we can start.
So why not use this vote of love to make a difference, and use our voices to encourage businesses to do good?
Three Steps of Being a Conscious, Compassionate Consumer:
- Know your stuff
Doing research online and asking companies about their practices is super awesome. However, that can take a lot of time, so I’ve put together some useful sources of info below from organisations I trust like Trade Aid and OXFAM. These are much easier ways to get the facts behind the main things on our shelves!
2. Buy things you support
Yay, this is that voting with our dollar stuff – choosing products based on what you value and believe in. There’s no need to be perfect – start with something you agree with that really excites you, like fair trade, or organic, or with no plastic, like I’m trying.:) For tips going plastic free, I recommend Plastic Free July‘s plastic free toolbox.
3. Be loud and proud (like the Lorax :))
Spread the word, speak for the trees! Having conversations with people in your life, showing your support on social media, and/or organising initiatives in your community are amazing ways to spread this kaupapa (topic/mission). This not only goes for the companies and products you support, but the ones you don’t; as when we use petitions and media platforms to let these companies know they need to do better they often listen to us and change for the better. What a win!
Good Sources of Info about which Brands are Ethical
Behind the Barcode’s Ethical Fashion and Electronics Guides – A yearly study on giving grades based on living wages and working conditions to different brands as part of a campaign by charity Baptist World Aid Australia to ‘Be Love, End Poverty’. You can download these guides for free here:
Behind the Brands Food Scorecard – A campaign by non-profit organisation OXFAM about improving the way food companies treat people and the planet. The ‘Big 10’ food companies worldwide are given scores each year on how well they perform in terms of women’s rights, climate, water, worker welfare, land rights, and transparency (honesty) about their practices. This campaign includes an online petitioning platform to encourage these businesses to continually improve what they do:
Trade Aid’s Website and Information on Being an Agent for Change:
More Info on the Environmental and Social Impact of Different Industries:
is when companies tell you they’re sustainable, but actually don’t have those vibes.
Ways to Find the Truth:
The Greenwashing Index is a page you can post examples you find and see what others think (also a great way to kill time online) – http://greenwashingindex.com/
The A-Z of Greenwashing! All the Tips you’ll ever need –http://www.good.net.nz/article/2014/05/a-z-greenwashing
Advice on making a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority:http://www.asa.co.nz/complaints/how-to-make-a-complaint/